When you walk up to the farm store at North Star Orchard, you are first greeted by some beautiful scenery here in Chester County, PA. A gorgeous blue barn from the 1860’s with large white stars high on the end walls stands, proud and welcoming. Furthermore, a knowledgeable staff who are also the ones responsible for growing the bountiful produce are never far away. A glance through the open doors provides the sights of all types of products from made by our neighbors and a generous supply of produce from North Star Orchard itself, products changing weekly as the season moves by.
In looking beyond the produce, there is another story, a much older story, that of the barn itself. What we have is known as a post and beam style barn. Traditionally these were constructed without the use of nails or other hardware to hold them together… just impeccable craftsmanship and small wooden pegs to keep beams from moving. The majority of the “bones” of this building are still original. Off the back end of the structure, you can see a later addition to the barn and can notice the different style of materials used in the roofing.
My absolute favorite thing about this barn is to think of how much history it has seen. Originally built in the 1860’s, some of the logs used for the construction were already well over 60 years old, dating them to the late 1700’s and earlier. That means that parts of this barn have been around before the steam ship was invented or the Louisiana Purchase was made!
Notice the rough marks on many of the beams. These marks are from the beams being hand hewn – that is, to take an axe and cut a round log into a square ‘cant’ which would then be used in the construction process. Some of these beams even happen to be American Chestnut, a once dominating species throughout the northeastern United States having made up an entire third of the forest cover. Unfortunately these champions of the forest were quickly extinguished by a fungus in a span of only 40 years.
To me, the star barn at North Star Orchard represents a time capsule of sorts, that in the likes of a photo. The history preserved in the structure itself is being melded with our present. It gives us a chance to take pause and think beyond our own busy day and to realize how some things are here for so much longer than ourselves.
The short video belows shows a bit of the amazing transformation process we went through…taking an old, but run-down structure and converting it to the beautiful building you can visit today:
Here’s a peek of what the inside of the barn looks like today…in its “new life” as a farm store. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Farm Store Hours in 2018:
Thursday, 3 to 6 PM
Friday, 2 to 5 PM
Saturday, 10 AM to 5 PM
Sunday, 12 PM to 5 PM